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BTO Housing

Can I Apply For A BTO Flat If I Already Own These Properties? (Deep Dive)

Although Build-To-Order (BTO) flats are commonly touted as the first home for every Singaporean, you may find yourself applying for a BTO flat as your second or even third home. Unfortunately for homeowners, the conditions to apply for a BTO differs widely, depending on the type of property that you currently own.

Fret not, this article will give you the good-to-knows before you apply for a BTO while holding on to another property. Let’s go!

General Pointers

Before delving into the various property combinations, these are the general criteria you need to adhere to before buying a BTO flat:

  • You can make a maximum of 2 successful applications for BTO projects (senior citizens who downgrade to a short lease 2-room flexi flat get an additional chance).
  • There is an additional option for senior citizens to purchase 2-room flexi units and community care apartments at a reduced lease.
  • An age limit of at least 21 years for couples and at least 35 years for singles.

Are you interested to apply for an HDB flat as a single person? You may find this article useful.

Furthermore, if you have previously bought subsidised housing from HDB, there are additional pointers to take note too. Subsidised housing is defined by HDB as:

  • A flat bought from HDB (i.e. BTO flats)
  • A resale flat bought with a CPF housing grant
  • A Design Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat 
  • An Executive Condominium (EC) unit
  • Other forms of housing subsidy (I.e. SERS, HUDC, etc)

This information will be useful for you if you are applying for your second HDB flat:

Minimum Occupation Period

You will need to stay in your home throughout the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) before you can apply for a second flat. For BTO and resale flats, the MOP is usually 5 years. A notable exception is Prime Location Housing (PLH) flats, where the MOP is 10 years. 

PLH flats are located in areas near the city centre and have a longer MOP to discourage homeowners from selling their units for profit.

Resale Levy

Furthermore, you will need to pay a resale levy when buying your second BTO flat. Here is what you need to know:

1. Payment method

Period at which first BTO was soldResale Levy Payment
After key collection to second BTO– Resale levy deducted from the net proceeds from the sale of first BTO- Any shortfall to be paid in cash
Before key collection to second BTOResale levy paid in cash upon key collection to second BTO

2. Levy amount

First BTO Housing TypeResale Levy Amount
FamiliesSingles
2-room / 2-room flexi flat$15,000$7,500
3-room flat$30,000$15,000
4-room flat$40,000$20,000
5-room flat$45,000$22,500
Executive flat$50,000$25,000
Executive condominium$55,000Not Applicable

Can you apply for a BTO flat if you already own a BTO?

If you are married and own a BTO flat as your first home, you can apply for another BTO flat as a second-timer. However, you must sell your resale flat within 6 months of completing the flat purchase.

Second-timer homeowners are defined as homeowners who have previously enjoyed a housing subsidy.

Source: HDB

As a new homeowner, you may be interested in the options available to own another BTO flat. The good news is you can apply for BTO projects and wait for the completion of your new home while staying at your current address. Once you have collected the keys to your new home, you will need to sell your flat within 6 months of your key collection date

However, a key disadvantage of being a second-timer is the limited amount of BTO units available. As BTO flats are prioritised for first-timer (read: new) homeowners, a smaller portion of flats is allocated to second-timers.

Non-Mature 2-Room Flexi (BTO)Non-Mature 2-Room Flexi (SBF)Non-Mature 3-RoomNon-Mature 4- and 5- RoomMature Estates
First-Timer Families20%90%70%85%95%
First-Timer Singles50%5%
Second-Timer Families30%5%30%15%5%

From the current allocation rates for new HDB units, the majority of flats are reserved to first-timer families, with only 30% or less of the share going to second-timer families. We can also see that the highest allocation rate for second-timers can be found in 2-room flexi and 3-room flats in non-mature estates.

The allocation rate for each flat type will affect your chances of successfully applying for it. Read on to see how it does!

Due to the limited supply available, you may expect increased difficulty in getting a queue number as a second-timer family.

To illustrate the difference, here is a look at the application rates for the BTO projects launched in November 2022:

Non-Mature Towns/ Estates

ProjectFlat TypeNo. of UnitsNo. of ApplicantsApplication Rate
First-timersSecond-timersOverall
Bukit Batok (West Glades)3-room841710.99.02.0
4-room2075111.816.52.5
5-room1685972.229.83.6
Tengah (Garden Waterfront I and II)3-room893261.516.23.7
4-room74019331.916.22.6
5-room67028492.635.24.3
Yishun (Vanda Breeze)3-room913832.117.04.2
Yishun (Vanda Breeze/ Miltonia Breeze/ Aranda Breeze)4-room91714221.110.51.6
5-room79514101.016.61.8

Mature Towns / Estates

ProjectFlat TypeNo. of UnitsNo. of ApplicantsApplication Rate
First-timersSecond-timersOverall
Kallang Whampoa (Kallang Horizon)3-room725503.2111.37.6
4-room40545617.192.311.3
Queenstown (Ghim Moh Natura/ Queensway Canopy/ Ulu Pandan Banks)3-room5875570.313.20.9
4-room244356521418.82.3
Total (Non-mature and mature estates)7268209221.822.62.9

When looking at data for 3-room flats and above in non-mature estates, it is generally about 10 times harder for second-timers to ballot for a BTO flat. The difference becomes greater and more unpredictable in mature estates, where it goes up to 44 times!

Interested in maximising your chances of scoring a BTO flat a second time? Consider applying for 3- or 4-room projects in non-mature estates, where application rates are lower.

If the size of your home is not a major factor, you may want to consider applying for 2-room flexi flats instead.

Non-Mature Towns/ Estates

ProjectNo. of UnitsNo. of ApplicantsApplication RateFirst-timersSecond-timersOverall
Bukit Batok (West Glades)3315591.00.20.41.7
Tengah (Garden Waterfront I)57810721.20.10.51.9
Yishun (Vanda Breeze/ Miltonia Breeze/ Aranda Breeze)119112380.70.10.11.0
Total*214232571.30.10.21.5

* Data from Ghim Moh Natura is not shown as it does not contain second-timer applicants.

From projects launched in the same period (Nov 2022), we can see that application rates for 2-room flexi flats are much lower than their larger counterparts. This is good news if you need a home to stay in urgently.

You are almost guaranteed a ballot with an application to any estate.

Regardless of your final choice, owning a home remains a long-term commitment. Before applying for a new BTO, you may want to consider if various factors such as location and flat size suit your needs.

Can you apply for a BTO flat if you already own a resale HDB?

If you currently own an HDB resale flat, you can apply for a BTO project. However, you must sell your resale flat within 6 months of completing the flat purchase.

You may have bought a resale flat given factors such as long waiting times for BTO projects, but are still interested in purchasing a BTO flat as your next home. Similar to the case of a homeowner owning a BTO unit, you can apply for BTO projects and wait for your new home to be completed while continuing to stay in your current home.

With the completion of your new flat, you will then have 6 months from the date of your key collection to sell your previous resale unit. This arrangement gives flexibility and peace of mind to homeowners, as they have time to make arrangements to dispose of their previous property after moving out.

In contrast, there is a cool-off period between disposing of and applying for a BTO flat if you are holding on to a private property. Read on to find out more!

Can you apply for a BTO flat if you already own a condo?

If you currently own a private property such as a condominium unit, you will have to sell your property first and wait for at least 30 months before you apply for a BTO flat.

You are interested in applying for a BTO flat but have a private property listed under your name. Private properties by HDB’s definition, include but are not limited to:

  • Houses (ie condominiums, landed properties)
  • Buildings
  • Land
  • Executive Condominium (EC) units
  • Privatised HUDC flats

A BTO flat is subsidised heavily by the government. To prevent them from being misused as an investment tool, there are restrictions on private homeowners on the sale of these flats. Therefore, there is a cooling-off period of at least 30 months after selling your private property  before you can apply for a BTO flat.

After factoring in the application period and construction time, the waiting time before homeowners can get the keys to their flat is much longer.

During this 30-month period, you cannot apply for the Enhanced CPF Grant or any HDB loan.

If you are interested in applying for any of these schemes, you will need to factor in additional delay time caused by this restriction.

Not many people can stomach such a long wait before getting a new home. If you need to get a new home urgently, you may want to consider buying a resale flat instead. Under HDB’s revised policies in 2022, you will need to wait 15 months after selling your private property before you can apply for a BTO flat.

This restriction does not apply to senior citizens aged at least 55 years who are moving to a 4-room or smaller resale flat.

Conclusion

When applying for a BTO flat while owning another property, you may encounter different policies, depending on the type of property you currently own.

If you own a BTO unit, you may apply for a new BTO unit as a second-timer. However, you may want to note that the chances of a successful application are much lower than compared to first-timers. Upon collecting the keys to your new home, you need to dispose of your previous BTO flat within 6 months.

If you own a resale unit, you may apply for a new BTO unit as a first or second-timer. Similarly,  you need to dispose of your resale flat within 6 months of collecting the keys to your new home.

Lastly, if you own a private property such as a condominium unit, you will need to dispose of your property for at least 30 months beforehand before you can apply for a new BTO unit. To reduce the waiting time, you may consider downgrading to a resale flat instead, where you will need to wait 15 months or even less (if you are aged at least 55 years old) before flat application.

Below is a table illustrating a summary of the key differences:

BTO HDB FlatResale HDB FlatPrivate Property
Can families apply?Yes
Can singles apply?NoYes as a first-timer
Purchase restrictionsSell your previous unit within 6 months after key collectionSell your property at least 30 months before flat application

I hope that this article gave you a greater understanding of whether you can buy a BTO flat while holding another property. Do check out this page for more guides on HDB-related topics!


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Housing

Can An HDB Flat Be Owned By JUST One Person? (Ultimate Deep Dive)

Living alone in Singapore is becoming an increasingly common trend, regardless of age. When looking at young adults, a polled survey by the National Population and Talent Division showed that half of the singles surveyed were not dating. As these adults choose to move out and live away from their families, we see more elderly living by themselves. This can be seen from national data, where the proportion of elderly living alone rose by 2% between 2010 and 2020.

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Source: Singstat

As a Singaporean interested in purchasing a home by yourself, you may be interested in the kinds of schemes offered by the Housing Development Board (HDB) for you. Read on to find out more!

Can an HDB flat be owned by one person?

Although the idea of buying HDB flats is usually associated with families, it is possible to own an HDB flat under a single name. Under HDB’s current policies, here are the possible ways to do so:

Young Singles

If you are single, you can only purchase a flat if you are 35 years old or above.

The only exception here is if you are widowed or an orphan. In this scenario, you can purchase any resale flat if you are 21 years old or above.

After reaching the magic age of 35, there are 2 options for you to buy an HDB by yourself: A new Build To Order (BTO) flat or a second-hand flat in the resale market.

Build To Order Flats

If you want to buy a subsidised home and do not mind waiting for it to be completed, you may consider buying a new BTO flat. Unfortunately, singles are restricted to purchasing 2-room Flexi Flats in non-mature estates.

This is to allow enough supply for the larger 3-5 room HDB flats to others who need the additional space (Read: Couples who intend to start a family soon).

However, with a living space of up to 46 sqm, a 2-room flat provides enough living space for one to call his or her home. Equipped with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room, it has all the basic features any home in Singapore has.

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Source: HDB

Imagine unwinding in that spacious living room all by yourself after a long day at work.

In addition to the subsided price of a BTO, you may also be eligible for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles) if your average monthly income is less than $4,500. Here is how much you can get in grants:

Average Monthly IncomeGrant amount
Not more than $750$40,000
$751 to $1,000$37,500
$1001 to $1,250$35,000
$1,251 to $1,500$32,500
$1,501 to $1,750$30,000
$1,751 to $2,000$27,500
$2,001 to $2,250$25,000
$2,251 to $2,500$22,500
$2,501 to $2,750$20,000
$2,751 to $3,000$17,500
$3,001 to $3,250$15,000
$3,251 to $3,500$12,500
$3,501 to $3,750$10,000
$3,751 to $4,000$7,500
$4,001 to $4,250$5,000
$4,251 to $4,500$2,500

Lastly, you may want to note that the flexi flat also comes with a 99-year lease, similar to other BTO flats. 

Flexi flats with shorter lease periods are also offered to senior citizens. Check out the details below!

Resale Flats

Considering a bigger space to call your home, or cannot take the long wait for BTO projects to be completed? You may want to consider buying a resale flat instead.

The main drawback of purchasing a resale flat as a single is its high price. Even though HDB flats are subsidised by the government, the price of resale flats is governed by market forces, making them much more expensive than BTO flats.

To mitigate these high prices and increase affordability, the government has introduced more CPF housing grants for singles to purchase resale flats. Other than the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles) (described above), singles may also be eligible for the following grants:

Grant NameGrant Amount
CPF Housing Grant (Singles)– $25,000 (2- to 4- room flat)
– $20,000 (5-room flat)
Proximity Housing Grant (Singles)– $15,000 (Living with parents/child)
– $10,000 (Living within 4km of parents/ child)

Compared to their BTO counterparts, there are fewer restrictions imposed on the sale of resale flats. Here is a comparison of the main points:

BTO FlatsResale Flats
Type of flat2-room Flexi onlyAll flat types, excluding 3Gen flats
LocationNon-mature estatesAny location
Monthly household income ceiling$7,000No income ceiling
Ownership/ interest in property in Singapore or overseas– Must not own or have any interest in any local or overseas private property, and
– Not sold any private property 30 months before the flat application
– Must not own or have any interest in any local or overseas private property, and
– Not sold any private property 15 months before the flat application
* These conditions do not apply to senior citizens aged 55 and above who are moving from a private property to a 4-room or smaller resale flat.
Additional amount payable$15,000

Senior Citizens

Other than the methods listed above, senior citizens aged 55 or above who are single can also purchase a BTO HDB flat under the following schemes:

Short-lease Flexi Flats

A new HDB flat is usually bought with a 99-year lease from the government. This form of contract means we are essentially paying for a ‘rental’ of 99 years. However, such a long ‘rental period’ may not be suitable for senior citizens, who end up paying more versus the length of the lease they need.

An HDB unit is returned to the government when the owner passes on. Therefore, a shorter lease which covers their living years is more cost-effective for senior citizens.

In response, the government came out with the idea of short-lease Flexi Flats in 2015. These 2-room flats have shorter leases of 15 – 45 years (in 5-year increments), which aim to last the buyer until he or she is at least 95 years old. Using an illustration from MND, you can save almost 70% by purchasing a flat with a 15-year lease instead of a 99-year one!

99-year Lease40-year Lease15-year Lease
Cost price$110,000$62,800$36,700
Savings (compared to 99-year lease)43 %67 %
Source: MND

These short-lease flexi flats are available for senior citizens aged 55 and above. Similar to regular 99-lease flexi flats, singles can enjoy the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles) (described above) if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Community Care Apartments

If you are a senior citizen aged 65 or above, another way that allows you to purchase an HDB alone is by buying a Community Care Apartment.

Recognising the living and social needs of ageing Singaporeans, the government introduced the Community Care Apartment scheme under a multi-ministerial initiative. Besides providing a roof over their heads, these apartments also come with dedicated care services by trained caregivers and social spaces for the elderly to mingle. Some of these care services include basic health checks and a 24-hour emergency response system.

You may want to note that the care services provided are subject to additional fees.

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Source: MND

As an elderly living alone, you will also be delighted to know that your Community Care Apartment comes with a suite of elderly-friendly features, such as grab bars, slip-resistant flooring and even panic buttons to alert your caregiver during emergencies!

Similar to short-lease flexi flats, affordability is a crucial feature of Community Care Apartments. For example, these flats are adequately sized, having a combined living/dining room/kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom, which help reduce costs.

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Source: HDB

Furthermore, these flats also come with short leases of 15 – 35 years (in 5-year increments) that aim to last the buyer until he or she is at least 95 years old. By not paying for a full 99-year lease, you will need to pay less for your new home.

Undecided on which type of flat to choose? Here is a comparison of the main points between short-lease flexi flats and Community Care Apartments:

Short-lease Flexi FlatCommunity Care Apartment
Age55 years or above65 years or above
Facilities availableNoneIn-house elderly-friendly features and dedicated care services
Monthly household income ceiling$14,000$14,000
Remaining lease of flatLease must last buyer until at least age 95Lease must last buyer until at least age 95
Ownership/ interest in property in Singapore or overseasAny owned private property must be sold within 6 months upon completion of the flat purchaseAny owned private property must be sold within 6 months upon completion of the flat purchase
Additional amount payable$30,000 (to be pro-rated according to the lease chosen)$30,000 (to be pro-rated according to the lease chosen)
CPF Grants availableEnhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles)Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles)
Selling/ RentingCannot be sold or rent out in the open marketCannot be sold or rent out in the open market

Conclusion

Although HDB flats are mainly targeted at couples and families for settling down, there are many ways to own a flat under a single name. This is great news for singles who want to move out of their family home and buy their own flat. Unfortunately, you will need to be 35 years old or above to do so, which applies to both BTO and resale flats. Furthermore, singles are restricted to 2-room flexi flats in non-mature estates for BTO flats.

If you are a senior citizen wanting to own a flat under your name, you will also be delighted to know that current schemes such as short-lease flexi flats and Community Care Apartments also cater to singles.

I hope that this article gave you a greater understanding of how you can own an HDB flat under a single name. Do check out this page for more guides on HDB-related topics!


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CPF

Can I Transfer From My CPF Special Account To These Accounts?

The CPF Special Account (SA) offers a high interest rate of 4 – 5 % p.a. to save for your retirement needs. However, you may be wondering if you can transfer your SA funds out for other purposes.

This article will help you understand under what conditions you can transfer out your SA funds, and whether you can transfer them out to your other CPF accounts.

Disclaimer: This article is meant for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide you with financial advice. You should always do your own research first, before making an investment decision!

Can I transfer my funds out of my CPF Special Account (SA)?

You can transfer funds out of your CPF Special Account (SA) only for specific investments under the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS).

The rationale for your SA savings is to save up for your retirement. To this end, the CPF Board has made it difficult to withdraw these savings in the first place.

Your SA savings will form the backbone of your Retirement Account when you turn 55.

However, the only exception where you can withdraw these funds is under the CPFIS, where you can potentially enhance your SA returns through investments. To make this move worthwhile, you need to find investment products that can offer returns higher than the SA’s interest rate.

Given the limited variety of investments and the SA’s competitive interest rate, it can be challenging to find a product that can match the SA in returns.

How can I invest using my CPF Special Account (SA)?

After setting aside $40,000 in your CPF Special Account (SA), you can invest the remainder of your SA funds. Compared with investing in your Ordinary Account (OA), products which are approved for CPF SA investments tend to fall into lower-risk categories.

By only allowing investments in lower-risk products for your SA, the chance of having inadequate savings for your retirement is reduced.

Here is a list of investment products that you can invest in using your SA funds:

  • Unit Trusts and ILPs (Higher risk products not included)
  • Annuities
  • Endowment Policies
  • Singapore Government Bonds
  • Treasury Bills

Unlike saving in your SA, you will also need to consider the impact of fees when you invest in certain products.

Excessive fees may eat into your returns, making the investment less worthwhile to make!

Here is a quick breakdown of the fees you can expect to pay for the various products available:

Investment ProductEstimated fees (% p.a.)
Lower-risk Unit Trusts0.41 % – 1.5 %
Treasury Bills, SSBs0 %

In addition, some products (such as endowment plans and annuities) are labelled as ‘Savings Plans’. These also come with fees that are payable to the advisor and company managing your funds!

When investing your CPF SA funds, the most important goal is to beat the guaranteed interest of your SA. Therefore, if the projected net return of your investment after accounting for fees is less than 4 % p.a., you may want to consider leaving your funds in your SA instead.

Beating the SA’s interest rate may be difficult, but it is not impossible. You can check out my guide on how you can attempt to do so.

Can I transfer funds from my CPF SA to OA?

Unfortunately, you cannot transfer funds from your CPF Special Account (SA) to your Ordinary Account (OA).

Your CPF OA and SA funds enjoy different interest rates for a reason: Their difference in liquidity. While you can withdraw your OA funds under certain circumstances such as repaying housing and study loans, you cannot do so with your SA funds.

With its long investment horizon, your SA funds are able to command a higher interest rate.

Therefore, your SA funds cannot be transferred out easily before you reach 55, and you can only do so afterwards if you have saved up the Full Retirement Sum (FRS) in your combined OA and SA savings.

Considering to transfer from your OA to your SA instead? Here are some pointers on how to do so.

Can I transfer funds from my CPF SA to MA?

Similarly, you cannot transfer funds from your CPF Special Account (SA) to your Medisave Account (MA).

Although your SA and MA both enjoy similar interest rates, you need these savings for very different purposes. Your SA savings are meant for your retirement, while your MA savings cover any unforeseen medical expenses throughout your lifetime.

It can take many years to save up the substantial amount needed for your retirement and large medical bills.

To ensure that you have enough funds for these important purposes, you cannot transfer from your SA to your MA, and vice versa.

Conclusion

Your CPF Special Account (SA) is the perfect place for you to save up for your retirement. So perfect, that any funds deposited inside become almost impossible to withdraw!

You can only withdraw your SA funds after you turn 55, after setting aside your Full Retirement Sum in your Retirement Account.

Before performing any top-ups to your SA, you may want to note that this process is irreversible. Furthermore, you may want to keep in mind that you cannot transfer funds from your SA to your other CPF accounts.

Therefore, I hope that this article gives you a clearer idea of the limitations of transferring your SA funds. Do check out this page for more guides on other topics about your CPF!


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CPF

The Ultimate Guide To Transferring From CPF OA to SA

You’ve decided to transfer some of your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) funds to your Special Account (SA) to earn higher interest. However, you may have doubts about how or when to do so. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to dispel any questions and also suggest strategies on how best to do it.

Disclaimer: This article is meant for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide you with financial advice. You should always do your own research first, before making an investment decision!

Can I transfer from my CPF OA to SA?

You can transfer funds from your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to your Special Account (SA) under the Retirement Sum Top Up (RSTU) Scheme if you are:

  • Below age 55, and
  • Your combined SA and savings withdrawn from SA under the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) is less than the current Full Retirement Sum (FRS)

If you are aged 55 or above, you can consider topping up your Retirement Account (RA) instead to earn a higher interest on your CPF balances.

You can top your RA up to the prevailing Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS)!

How do I transfer from my CPF OA to SA?

You can transfer your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) funds easily to your Special Account (SA) either through the CPF Website or the CPF Mobile App. Here are the steps to carry it out:

#1 CPF Website

1. After logging into your CPF account using your SingPass, click on “Tools and Services” at the top of the webpage:

CPF Website Step 1

2. Next, under “Forms and e-applications”, select “View Forms”.

CPF Website Step 2

3. Select the first option under “Growing your Savings”, “Save more with CPF”. Under the drop-down menu, click on “Apply Online” under the first section “Cash top-ups and CPF transfers for retirement”.

CPF Website Step 3

4. Check the “I have read and accepted the Disclaimer” checkbox to start the top-up process.

CPF Website Step 4

5. Under the options available, select “CPF transfer”.

You may want to note that CPF transfers are not eligible for tax relief and matching grants by the government.

CPF Website Step 5

6. Under “Recipient Details”, select “Myself”. You will then be prompted to enter the amount that you want to transfer to your SA. Scrolling down, confirm your contact details and fill in some feedback, before going to the next step.

CPF Website Step 6A
CPF Website Step 6B

7. You will then be asked to review your application. Once you have confirmed the details are correct, check the checkbox at the bottom of the page to agree to the Declaration and Terms and Conditions and click “Confirm”.

CPF Website Step 7

8. Lastly, you will receive an acknowledgement of your transfer. Congratulations, you have transferred your funds from your OA to your SA!

CPF Website Step 8

#2 CPF Mobile App

1. After logging into your CPF app using your SingPass, you will be redirected to your dashboard. Scroll down to the “Quick Access” section and select “Top-up or Transfer”.

CPF App Step 1

This selection allows you to top up CPF accounts using cash or your CPF monies.

2. Following this, you will be given general information regarding top-ups. Read them carefully and select “Continue” at the bottom to start the top-up process.

CPF App Step 2

3. On the next page, select “CPF Transfer” as the top-up method, followed by “Self” as the recipient. Scrolling down, enter the amount you want to transfer, then select “Continue”.

CPF App Step 3
CPF App Step 4

4. You will be then prompted with the Terms and Conditions of the transfer. Read and agree to them before selecting “Next”.

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5. On the final step, you will be asked to review your transfer. Once you have confirmed that the details are correct, select “Confirm”.

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6. Lastly, you will receive an acknowledgement of your transfer. Congratulations, you have transferred your funds from your OA to your SA!

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You can find out whether you should top up your CPF SA or SRS account here.

Can I transfer from my CPF OA to my spouse’s SA?

To enhance your combined CPF returns as a couple, you can transfer funds from your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to your spouse’s Special Account (SA) if your spouse is below age 55.

If your spouse is aged 55 or above, you can only top up to his or her Retirement Account (RA)!

You may have seen situations, especially in the older generation, where households have a single breadwinner. In this case, the breadwinner’s CPF account will have much more than his/her spouse’s.

In such cases, it is possible to generate more interest in your combined CPF balances by transferring funds from the working spouse’s OA to the non-working spouse’s SA. Also, if your spouse’s combined CPF balance is low, he or she may benefit from extra interest!

You can earn an additional 1% interest on the first $60,000 of your combined CPF balances, capped at $20,000 for your OA.

You may wonder: “This method looks good on paper, but how much more interest will we get?” Fret not, here is an example to illustrate this.

Let’s introduce a hypothetical couple, Mr and Mrs Lim. Mr Lim (aged 54), who is working, has a larger CPF OA balance than Mrs Lim (aged 51), who is a housewife.

Initially, Mr Lim had $100,000 in his CPF OA. Meanwhile, Mrs Lim only had $5,000 in her SA.

The large difference between Mr Lim’s OA and Mrs Lim’s SA makes a top-up more worthwhile.

Mr LimMrs LimTotal Interest Earned per year
CPF OA$100,000$20,000$3,400
CPF SA$20,000$5,000$1,250
Total Balance$120,000$25,000$4,650

Mr Lim then tops up $40,000 from his OA to Mrs Lim’s SA. As a result, Mr Lim has $60,000 left in his OA, while Mrs Lim’s SA balance increases to $45,000.

As a result of this top-up, we can see that the total interest earned by the Lim couple has increased by $950.

Mr LimMrs LimTotal Interest Earned per year
CPF OA$60,000$20,000$2,400
CPF SA$20,000$45,000$3,200
Total Balance$120,000$25,000$5,600 (+ $950)

By transferring our OA funds to our spouse’s SA, we can enjoy additional interest from both the SA and the spouse’s combined balances!

What is the limit to transfer from my OA to my spouse’s SA?

The limit you can transfer from your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to your spouse’s Special Account (SA) depends on your age.

Below Age 55

If you are below age 55, you can transfer the remaining sum in your OA after setting aside the current Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) for that year.

The BRS is continually adjusted higher yearly to meet rising costs of living.

Let us take an example of a couple, Richard (aged 51) and Ann (aged 49). After having paid off their outstanding loans on their BTO flat, Richard has a balance of $100,000 in his OA in 2022.

In 2022, the BRS was fixed at $96,000.

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Source: CPF

Want to know more about the different Retirement Sums in your CPF? Check out this article!

After setting aside the BRS for that year, Richard can only transfer $4,000 to Ann’s SA.

Richard’s OA BalanceCurrent BRS (2022)Amount Richard can transfer to Ann’s SA
$100,000$96,000$100,000- $96,000 = $4,000

Age 55 or above

If you are aged 55 or above, you can transfer the remaining sum in your CPF savings after setting aside the current Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) for that year.

This includes savings in your Special Account (SA) and Retirement Account (RA), but not your Medisave Account (MA).

How does this calculation differ from the previous one? Let’s find out!

Rahman (aged 57) wishes to transfer a sum from his CPF savings to his wife Aisiah (aged 54), also in 2022. Below is the profile of his CPF savings.

Rahman’s OA BalanceRahman’s SA + RA BalanceTotal eligible CPF Balance
$100,000$300,000$100,000 + $300,000 = $400,000

After setting the BRS for that year, Rahman can transfer $304,000 to Aisiah’s SA.

Rahman’s Total CPF BalanceCurrent BRS (2022)Amount Rahman can transfer to Aisiah’s SA
$400,000$96,000$400,000 – $96,000 = $304,000

Notice how Rahman was able to transfer a larger sum to his spouse even though he has the same OA balance as Richard.

The difference lies in the larger transfer limit given to citizens aged 55 or above, which allows them to transfer their SA and RA savings to their spouse.

What is the limit to transfer from my OA to SA?

If you are below age 55, you can top up your CPF Special Account (SA) through the Retirement Sum Top Up (RSTU) Scheme using either cash or your CPF OA funds. The RSTU Scheme aims to boost the retirement sum for you and your loved ones through voluntary top-ups.

cpf rstu intro
Source: CPF

Unfortunately, the RSTU scheme only allows you to top up your RA if you are 55 or above. In this way, the Voluntary Contributions will become the sole way that you can top up your SA.

Apart from your current balance, the top up limit to your SA through the RSTU Scheme depends on 2 factors:

  1. The Full Retirement Sum (FRS) of the current year
  2. Savings withdrawn from SA under the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS)

Therefore, this is the maximum amount you can top up through the RSTU Scheme:

Max SA Top Up = FRS – SA Balance – Investments from SA

For example, Ravi (aged 42) wants to top up his own SA under the RSTU scheme in 2022. Apart from the balance in his SA, he also has some of his SA funds invested under CPFIA.

This is the profile of his SA:

Amount
(a)Current FRS (As of 2021)$192,000
(b)SA balance$151,000
(c)CPFIA funds withdrawn from SA$30,000
(d)Amount that Ravi can top up:
(a) – (b) – (c)
$11,000

From the above table, we can see that Ravi is only able to top up a maximum of $11,000 through the RSTU Scheme in 2021.

The FRS is continually revised upward every year. Thus, if you have already saved the FRS in your SA, you will need to wait till the revision next year to make further top-ups!

What is the best time to transfer from my OA to SA?

The best time to transfer funds from your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to your Special Account (SA) will depend on your needs to spend your OA funds.

With your OA funds, you can pay off big proceeds such as your study and housing loans. On the other hand, funds in your SA are strictly for your retirement savings only.

With its long investment horizon, your SA funds are able to command a higher interest rate.

Therefore, to take advantage of both the OA’s liquidity and the higher interest rate of the SA, a good time to transfer funds from your OA to your SA would be after you have paid off any outstanding housing loans using your OA.
As the top-up process from your OA to your SA is irreversible, it would be a good idea to plan your OA spending first before committing them to your SA.

Do I get tax relief if I transfer from my OA to SA?

Unfortunately, any funds transfer from your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to your Special Account (SA) does not qualify for tax relief.

This is because you can only claim tax reliefs from your CPF contributions from your salary and cash contributions, subject to the CPF Annual Limit.

As of 2022, the CPF Annual Limit stands at $37,740

If you want to enjoy tax reliefs through your CPF top-ups, the best way to do so is by using cash to top up your SA. Using this method, you can save up to $8,000 a year in tax deductions (as of 2022)!

What are the benefits of transferring from my OA to SA?

Transferring funds from your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) to your Special Account (SA) provides benefits for you in the long run. Here are some of them:

Harnessing the power of compound interest

While the CPF OA is a safe haven to save up for your retirement with its stable interest rate, its 2.5% – 3.5% interest per annum leaves more to be desired when investing for long-term goals such as your retirement.

One way to make your excess OA funds work harder for you is to transfer them to your SA, which generates a higher interest of 4 – 5 % per annum.

Excess OA monies refer to your remaining funds after setting aside necessary spending needs such as housing.

Source: CPF

Right now, you may wonder: The difference in interest rate is only 1.5%. How much more can I earn in my SA?

To illustrate the effect of a 1.5% difference in returns over time, here is a graph showing the final balance if you had saved the same amount in your OA and SA for 22 years.

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By just switching your funds from your OA to your SA, you would have seen a 60% increase in your returns! When comparing the final amounts between both accounts, the SA has 35% more than the OA.

A 1.5% increase in returns may not look much at first, but it can compound much more greatly in the long run.

Keep up with the rising Basic Retirement Sum

Due to the increasing costs of living due to inflation, the government adjusts the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) of citizens turning 55 every year. In the latest update to this increase in Budget 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Lawerence Wong announced that the BRS will be raised by 3.5% every year until 2027.

The funds in your OA alone are unable to keep up with this increase!

Topping up your SA gives you a guaranteed 4 – 5% interest in your savings, which is more than enough to cover the BRS increases for the next few years. This gives your CPF portfolio greater strength to fight against inflation.

As the funds in your SA go directly to your Retirement Account (RA) when you turn 55, saving more in your SA also means you will be saving up more for your retirement.

With a larger RA fund, you will be able to enjoy larger handouts under CPF LIFE!

Should I transfer from my OA to SA?

If you have excess funds in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA), it would be a good idea to transfer some of them to your Special Account (SA)

While you can use your OA for specific needs such as housing and school loans, you cannot withdraw your OA funds.

As the remaining amount of your OA will eventually be combined with your SA and Medisave Account (MA) to form your Retirement Account at age 55, these funds will eventually end up in your retirement savings. Since we are saving for a long-term goal, transferring your OA funds to the higher-interest rate SA makes financial sense to achieve greater returns.

Therefore, a possible strategy with your OA funds would be to transfer them to your SA as early as possible after setting aside any spending needs in your OA.

Alternatively, consider investing your OA funds to achieve greater returns. Check out this comparison between investing your CPF and SRS funds to see if that is suitable for you!

Conclusion

If you are considering to perform a top-up to your CPF Special Account (SA) with your Ordinary Account (OA), you are not alone! In the first three quarters of 2022, a record sum of $3.5 billion in voluntary top-ups was made to CPF accounts, with cash top-ups and CPF transfers to Special or Retirement Accounts being the most popular method.

While top-ups on your SA with your OA do not get the same recognition as cash top-ups, it is an integral part of a strategy to maximise your Retirement Account (RA) funds.

Therefore, I hope that this guide can give you more insights into OA-SA transfers and how to perform them. Do check out this page for more guides on other topics about your CPF!

You can find out more about the CPF SA in this guide here.


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